1. C.J. Stroud is good, but so is the Steelers' defense
Houston rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud is off to a better-than-average start. The second overall selection in the April Draft leads all rookie signal-callers with 906 yards passing and four touchdowns.
In fact, Stroud ranks in the top five in the entire league in passing yards (5th), completions (5th), attempts (4th), and passing yards per game (302.0, 5th). He’s also one of only five starting quarterbacks in the NFL who hasn’t thrown an interception thus far.
Those numbers will be put to the test against the Steelers. T.J. Watt leads the NFL with 6.0 sacks through three games, a half-sack more than he had in 10 games played last season. Watt is also tied for first with two forced fumbles and has a dozen quarterback hits.
The Steelers’ secondary has also improved of late and could be aided by the addition of former Texan cornerback Desmond King this week. He signed with Pittsburgh after being released after training camp and has yet to make his debut in the Black & Gold. King was an All-Pro cornerback and punt returner for the Chargers in 2018 and certainly can shed light on what the Texans’ offense does well from his time there.
Regardless, Patrick Peterson, Levi Wallace, and Joey Porter, Jr. will likely get the bulk of the workload against Houston. Peterson’s interception against the Raiders marked the 13th consecutive season he’s had at least one interception. He’s also tied with Wallace and four others for fifth in the league with four passes defensed. That mark puts Peterson on pace to break his career-high of 16 passes defensed in 2012.
Wallace had a career-high four passes defended against the Raiders, which includes the two interceptions he collected.
Stroud’s offensive line struggled to protect him the first two games of the season, giving up 11 sacks in that time. But in the Texans’ win at Jacksonville, the offensive line didn’t allow a sack.
According to Steelers.com, since 1970, the Steelers are 48-13 (.787) when facing a rookie quarterback, including a 23-4 (.852) mark under Tomlin. Pittsburgh has won nine straight games against rookie starters and 22 of its last 25 overall. Dak Prescott was the last rookie quarterback to beat the Steelers, leading Dallas to a 35-30 victory in 2016.